"What can a ruined soul, like mine, effect towards the redemption of other souls?—or a polluted soul, towards their purification?"

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Favorite Theatrical Preachers: With Video Goodness

After a discussion with Cynthia recently, I realized that some of my favorite movies and television shows have some pretty crooked ministers in them.

At the heart of it, you know you really want a pastor/preacher with a mix of all these men. Admit it. It's okay. Sure, you want a man who preaches reformed theology. But you want him a "little off." Like these guys.

I've had some pretty heavy posts recently, so I thought I'd post my favorite ministers in the entertainment industry. With video evidence of course.

1. Eli Sunday - There Will Be Blood

This guy is phenomenal. He's a con-artist who works the congregation, he works a big time oil boss, but in the end, he blasphemes the God who made him his money - and gets himself offed by an Academy Award winner. Paul Dano, the actor, was nominated for a British Academy Film Award for his role. Best line I can't quote after this "sermon" that's not in this clip is from Lewis: "That was one gosh darn heck of a show."

Don't say that to your pastor.

2. Jonas Nightingale - Leap of Faith

Unbelievable performance of drama from the great comedian Steve Martin. He said he researched the part by watching Benny Hinn. I have watched this movie at least 60 times. And you can't beat a movie with Liam Neeson and Meat Loaf. Several great clips here: "Go ahead, tip the dancing bear." And, Martin's superior dialogue in this clip, "You wanna give up womanizing? Who you gonna talk to? Some pale skin virgin priest? If you wanna give up sin, you need a real sinner people..."

3. Fletch Lives - Jimmy Lee Farnsworth. Farnsworth has his own amusement park and is a Peter Popoff / Jim Bakker knockoff. In this scene, Chevy Chase's character improvises being a faith healer.

4. Elmer Gantry, Burt Lancaster - A con artist, alcoholic posing as a minister to get the woman. A great movie if you haven't seen it. Lancaster won best actor for his role.

Who knows what religion this guy is? But he's a sucker, an apparent ecumenalist and a ham. But we all can identify with his gaffes and poor judgment. Every pastor in America has been where this man has been. Surrounded by goofballs. Yet totally oblivious.

Bonus story: Once while I was visiting a church, a high school student played piano for the special music. I sat there and listened and the song sounded really familiar. He was smirking all the way through it. I looked at his buddies and they were laughing. Finally, I said to myself, "That's 'Stairway to Heaven'"

He got done and the place filled with "Amens" and he bowed to the congregation. That's the nice thing about playing to an over-60 crowd I suppose.


  1. Okay Arthur - glad to see you have a somewhat wicked sense of humor. So do I - gets me into trouble A LOT. I could say that quote above to my pastor - he's 26 years old and one of the most authentic and funny people I know. He would put his head back and ROAR if I said that to him :) He's very progressive and in my world through facebook and twitter every day - and we're always sharing laughter and fun. (By the way if you're not my fried on there - you wouldn't have seen that I actually posted that 'Bono' article that you were referring to the other day - great minds think alike, right?) I don't remember the last time I could actually say that my pastor is my friend. It blows the mind.
    And although I've heard of some of these movies - I proud to say that I've never seen them - good grief - no WONDER Christianity and Pastors get a bad name, right? Terribly funny too, I know. What to do. Ever seen "Pride and Prejudice" The movie version is okay - but I'm talking about the BBC mini-series. The preacher/relative is so SLIMY and GREASY - it's so fun to watch :)

  2. Actually, the quote I posted is the G-rated version. The movie version and the way he delivers it is priceless.

    And my sense of humor is a mixture of sarcasm, meanness and subtle cynicism. Most people look at me like, "are you being serious or are you kidding?" I never tell them.